Some time back I mentioned having an idea that should, or might, make me very wealthy.
Well, this morning I launched my first field test.
To begin with, I had the t-shirt made.
You may recall the writing is Chinese and I’m told it means, “I can't speak Chinese.”
So this morning I had an appointment with my podiatrist, as it’s important for diabetics to have their feet checked often.
I wore my new yellow t-shirt.
When she (the doctor) came in I pointed to the inscription and said, “Chinese.”
Right on cue she said, “I can’t speak Chinese.”
I replied, “Right.”
She said, “What does it say?”
I looked down and said, “I can’t speak Chinese.”
She replied, ”It must mean something.”
To which I again said, “I can’t speak Chinese.”
This went on for several exchanges before she said, “Oh!” and started laughing so hard I felt she might faint.

All in all, the first road test was considered a success.
Upward and onward.
Or is it onward and upward.

The Old Professor
Carmel, CA
September 26, 2006



Well into the fourth day of being without television and I think I’m holding up fairly well. Once in awhile my heart races and my hands do tremble a bit when I think I heard a TV voice in the other room but other than that I think I’ll make it.

This TV fasting period did get me to thinking about the addictive aspect of television, or I suppose most anything else. I know when I studied such things I learned that man made a big jump forward when the wheel was invented. A long time after that another big step happened around 1455 when Johannes Gutenberg invented movable type that made printing possible. Prior to that the only things to read were handwritten by monks.

I understand that Guttenberg printed big, 2-volumn bibles so reading was much like the early days of television when there was only one channel to watch but some people watched it even when the only thing visible was the station identifier picture. These people would stare at the screen and after a while something would appear. I really believe that they thought the staring caused the picture to appear. I’m sure some of them did. I knew them. One of them was my boss. Of course that was before I was teaching at the college. I was teaching at a high school.

I suppose back in Gutenberg’s day parents were always nagging their kids with things like, “When are you going to get your nose out of that bible?” Or, “Why don’t you get up and help your mother churn the lard – it’s good exercise for you.” Or even the well-worn, “There’s nothing good going to come from you looking at that junk all day.”

We seem to have survived that era and even though we can waste time much more efficiently now I suppose we’ll survive this one too. At least I hope so. I know I’m 4 days ahead of everyone else so that’s a start.

The Old Professor
Carmel, CA
September 18, 2006



**This is rather lengthy but it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time**

I was a little surprised at the reaction of several people when I mentioned that I had flown airplanes in the U.S. Navy during World War II. I had many interesting experiences but find many of them hard to describe to someone who has never flown. For one thing, there's a matter of terminology. So today, inasmuch as my television set is broken I would like to describe some things that I learned about flying and, at the end, something I learned about life in general.

There are basically three things that control the movement of an airplane as it moves through the air.
Stearman biplane
Usually located at the rear of the plane there is the rudder, which the pilot controls by moving it left or right much the same as the rudder controls the direction a boat moves.
Also at the rear of the plane there are a pair of elevators. These move up and down and control the attitude of the plane with respect to its climbing or descending.
On the wings there are ailerons, which are synchronized so that when one moves up the other moves down. These are essential when banking the plane to make a turn.
Now this is where the fun begins. If you can picture using the ailerons to cause the plane to bank 90° you can see that, at that time the other control surfaces take on a different function. At this angle the rudder, which was controlling the direction, is now in the position of the elevators and therefore controls the up or down attitude.
If we continue using the ailerons to bank another 90° the plane is now in an inverted position and the elevator is back to controlling the up and down attitude except the controls are exactly opposite. That is, in an inverted position the control that ordinarily makes the plane climb would make it descend.
The reason I mention this is that we were all required to master several aerobatic (acrobatic) movements such as a simple loop where the plane dives down to pick up speed and then pulls up to an inverted position and then back to where it was. This is a fairly simple move except we were required to end up at exactly the same altitude and heading from where we started.
The one that was most difficult was called a "slow roll". In this maneuver the plane maintains its heading an altitude throughout the maneuver. It begins similar to a simple turn except the controls are worked against each other so the plane does not turn but rather rolls to an inverted position. As mentioned before, at this time all of the controls work the opposite from normal flight. This isn't too bad except that during the roll the controls have to constantly be controlled and changed from normal flight to something abnormal. When the roll is completed you’re expected to be heading the same direction you started and at the same altitude.

To this day, my logical mind tells me this is impossible for a human being to do that. Yet, I did it and, if I say so myself, I did it very well. I would hate to be required to do a slow roll today but then again there are quite a few things I would hate to be required to do that I routinely did 60 years ago.

All of this does lead to a short story with a moral. It happened in December in sub-zero Indiana when I was flying in open-cockpit planes that looked exactly like the picture above. At various times during our training we were required to undergo "check flights". At these times an instructor went with you and you are required to perform the required maneuvers on a pass/fail basis. The most difficult of these check flights was at the end of the aerobatic phase. Everyone dreaded the Aerobatic Check Flight.
Mine was scheduled for a particular Sunday afternoon at one o'clock. That Saturday evening a group of us were "on the town" having a good time. I was practicing drinking some kind of alcoholic beverage I had read about in a novel about naval aviators. After we returned to the base we passed the schedule board where I noticed my Sunday afternoon check flight had been, for some unknown reason, moved up to 7 a.m. The time I noticed this was after 3 a.m. I knew I was a dead duck for sure. The Aerobatic Check Flight was the most difficult part of the whole training and there certainly was no way I would be in shape to pass that at 7 a.m.
I did show up on the flight line and met my Check Flight Instructor. I was relying on the fact we were allowed to fail a test once, but only once. We took off and when we had reached the appropriate altitude I heard, "Okay, give me a slow roll."
“Yeah right. Well, here's your damned slow roll" I thought and started the maneuver. Oooh -- that was not bad. It amazed me! Then there was the loop and the snap roll and all the other maneuvers and they all seemed to work well.
When we were finished the instructor said to me, "That's the best flight I've ever checked."
So what did I learn? It wasn't that you go out drinking the night before something important but I did learn that if you'd need to do something and you do not get uptight about it you will do it better.

Trust me. It’s true.

The Old Professor

Carmel, CA

September 17, 2006



Probably big trouble lies ahead. My magnificent, high-definition television set has stopped functioning. It comes on with about 30 seconds of sound and then shuts off. It rests awhile and repeats the show. Since there is no picture at all this doesn't make for pleasant viewing.
Luckily we have an extended warranty. Unluckily, it will be "up to 48 hours", not including weekends before a technician will call to set up an appointment to repair it. Since this breakdown occurred on Friday it will probably be Tuesday before the technician calls to tell me they are very busy and they won't be able to get out to our place for another week or so. Then, I suppose, he/she will find there is a part that needs to be ordered and the only one available is in the backcountry of China.
So what does one do without any television? I seem to remember there were these stacks of paper with cardboard on the top and bottom that people called "books". I may have to look into that to help pass the time. Of course, I don't know if there will be any book that I can read on Sunday afternoon that will satisfy me as much as watching a football game.
Oh well!

The Old Professor

Carmel, CA

September 15, 2006



Yesterday I wrote about seeing the geese flying south for the winter. I commented on the wonders of these creatures knowing when it was time to head to warmer weather. Once again, I was mistaken. The past two days are close to the warmest we have had all year in spite of the fact that summer is supposedly a thing of the past.

Maybe geese aren't as smart as I thought they were. Perhaps that's where the term, "Silly Goose" came from as in, "Why would you want to leave this lovely, warm weather, you silly goose?"

The Old Professor
Carmel, CA
September 12, 2006



Almost every year I get the privilege of watching one of nature's mysteries. Yesterday, while driving along the coast, I saw two formations of geese heading south for the winter. I understand a group of geese is called a "gaggle".

One of the reasons this annual migration seems so awesome to me is my experience while flying in the U.S. Navy. There we were taught "formation flying" and it was almost exactly what these geese and their ancestors have been doing for centuries. That is, there would be one leader who would decide the altitude, speed and direction the whole formation would follow. The reasons we flew in these formations were the same reasons the geese do. That is, most of the fliers don't have to be concerned with navigation which, it would seem to me, is only one of the difficult parts.

One of the things I have always wondered about was who makes a decision as to who will be the leader? This would seem important to me because the leader not only gets to the right destination but also decides when it is time to rest and when it is time to start out again.

As often happens, some things remind me of experiences I had with my military flying. We had two slightly different formations. The one the geese use we called echelon. That is, there was a leader and each plane that followed was to the right or left and slightly lower than the plane ahead of it. Then there was one we called "step down". That was like one half of an echelon. It was in this step down formation that I had a memorable experience.
We were practicing night landings. In this exercise one of the planes took off (in the dark of course) and the other planes followed. The lead plane had an instructor and a student and I think there were about six other planes that followed keeping the step down formation. These other planes contained student pilots and I was in position 2, just behind the instructor.

We would take off, or rather the lead plane would take off and we would follow, and climbed to an altitude of 500 feet. Then the lead plane would make a U-turn and fly back parallel to the runway until it reached the point where it started. At that point the lead plane would bank and make a sharp U-turn at the same time descending to touch the runway and take off again to repeat the process.

Now, I was solo and following the lead plane, which in reality was only three dots of light. All went well until I started to make the turn to land the first time. At that point my plane is banked at an angle and the airplane wing obliterates my view of the lead plane. For a few seconds the lights disappear then as I straighten out to land the lights are supposed to appear in front of me again. They did not! There was no plane ahead of me! I had no leader! So, I got on the radio and called the tower to tell them I had lost my formation. I imagined the tower personnel roaring with laughter and eventually telling me to join up at the end of any other formation I could see. Since there were several, that was no problem. I made several practice landings and eventually taxied back and parked the plane.

It wasn't long before I saw my instructor coming towards me. I asked him what it happened that caused him to disappear. Controlling himself as best he could he said, "I was right underneath you! You could have killed me."

"Sorry, sir."

That was the answer. I had been coming in to a beautiful landing right on top of my instructor's airplane. Not exactly the way the to win friends and influence people. For some reason I never will understand, he did not report me and for that I'm was, and still am, grateful and think of him every time I see a gaggle of geese heading south.

The Old Professor
Carmel, CA
September 11, 2006



Yesterday I happened to notice that it was two years ago that I posted my first blog. I didn't count the archives but am assuming that means somewhere around 700 pieces of my drivel have appeared on the Internet. I couldn't help but wonder if anything worthwhile had been written. I imagined what it would be like if some historians dug up these blogs a thousand years from now. What would they learn?

They might have learned a few unusual things had happened during these two years. They might have noticed, for instance, that a man had been elected president. That it was a male would probably strike them as unusual but I'm sure he would take them some time to figure out how that happened when he didn't even get most of the votes.

As archaeologists and historians do, they probably would try to tie together different events to accurately establish dates. I'm sure they would be puzzled when they found that the Boston Red Sox had won the World Series as by then it would be common knowledge that was impossible.

If they happen to read the blog describing how I found my lost cell phone inside my shoe they might be puzzled. I'm sure that by that time cell phones will be small enough that people will lose them in their shoe under regular basis. In fact, it may be possible that the phone would be implanted in the shoe. (Do you remember Don Adams, in the 1965 TV series, "Get Smart" where Maxwell Smart was an agent who often talked into his shoe?)

Anyway, I think it gives me quite a bit of comfort to know that anything I write here won’t make a damn bit of difference a thousand years from now. In fact, now that I think of it, it won’t make any difference tomorrow.

The Old Professor
Carmel, CA
September 2, 2006